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Consumer Alerts

Scams and Fraud - A Large Price to Pay

July 29, 2016
Content provided by Congressman David Young

You may have heard this one before - a potential buyer hoping to purchase something you're selling online sends you a check for the amount owed - only the check is for too much.

Then they request you return the difference in the form of a money order or by mailing the amount back to their return address in cash.

By the time you attempt to cash the original check, it's too late. Not only is the check fake, but you've now lost the money you've "returned" to the buyer, and potentially the item you've intended to sell.

Don't be fooled - scammers are continuously looking for ways to take advantage of you and all Americans using seemingly innocuous techniques. The best way to stay protected is to remain informed about different schemes and scams - and what to do about them.

If you intend to do business on Craigslist or another e-commerce website, take a moment to research some of the common fraud practices they've reported. Because sometimes there can be fake merchandise, tickets, or offers floating around, you may want to meet in a public space to complete the transaction.

Are you hoping to sell items at a garage sale or flea market? Remember personal checks can sometimes be falsified even when they are presented with a photo ID. Consider cash only sales, be wary of larger bills, and learn how to spot what's counterfeit and what's not. The Secret Service's website ( gives helpful advice and tools on how what to look for to prevent fraud.